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Catholic program celebrates 15 years of assisting pregnant women and young mothers

.- A Catholic community network, which has helped more than 3,000 women with pregnancies and parenting, celebrated its 15th anniversary Sept. 14.

Catholic Family Services' Caring Network provides counseling, helps with adoptions, offers assistance in obtaining prenatal care and proper nutrition and offers childbirth-preparation and parenting classes.

The main speaker at the anniversary event witnessed to how the Caring Network changed her life. Misty Larthridge spoke about how, 12 years ago as a scared single mother pregnant with her second child and considering suicide, she received care and counseling at the center, reported The Kalamazoo Gazette.

Her experience there inspired Larthridge to change her mind. She got a part-time job and went back to school. She earned a bachelor's degree at Spring Arbor University and is currently working on a master's degree in counseling, said the newspaper.

Larthridge is now an outreach worker for transitional housing at the YWCA in Kalamazoo. She is also married and has four sons. She said the program helped restore her dignity.

The event Tuesday also marked a decade since the William and Katherine Van Domelen Center, which houses the program, opened. Bill Van Domelen, the center's benefactor, was among the 100 who attended. He donated an initial $1 million to construct the building and assist with operational costs.

Since the program started, it has assisted 3,400 women in the Kalamazoo area.

The program's Warmline gives emotional support and guidance 24 hours a day to pregnant women and young mothers. It also offers a post-partum-depression support service and provides baby clothes, diapers and furniture.

Since 1996, Caring Network has operated four apartment units next to the Van Domelen Center for expectant or young mothers. The network started a new family-literacy program this year called "Read Me a Story."


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